Phil Bailey from London received a grant from LWPT, funded by the generous donations of our supporters. Phil shares the impact the grant has had on his life below:
I would like to offer heartfelt thanks for your generous support for me and my family during my first year of studies at Oak Hill College. It was a challenging year in many ways, but it is an immense privilege to be studying at Oak Hill full time and I am very grateful for your help in enabling this. I am also grateful for the many ways I have been equipped and changed through the year, which I shall set out here.
The teaching content of the first year was excellent. I particularly enjoyed Dan Strange’s lectures on the Christian Worldview and Apologetics and had my understanding stretched by Doctrine lectures on the Trinity and Christology. I found the Biblical languages to be very hard work, but am carrying on with Greek in my second year and am seeing the benefit of having it when exegeting a text. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed a compulsory module on Christian Youth Work, in which Mel Lacy gave us a really helpful and solidly Biblical framework for the responsibilities of families and churches in bringing up children to know Jesus. Finally, Graham Beynon’s lectures on practical ministry were very helpful in thinking through Biblical patterns of church leadership, corporate worship and in exploring the Biblical basis for evangelism and its outworkings in 21st Century Britain.
My studies so far have made me more convinced of the need to equip and encourage Christians to live visibly Christ-like lives in their communities and workplaces. Reflecting on my own time working in tax and a recent assignment on evangelism, I am convinced that everyday interaction between Christians and non-Christians is where the gospel can be most powerfully proclaimed and displayed outside of Sunday gatherings. Believers will do this most effectively when they are walking closely with the Lord themselves, so the continual and ever deepening work of discipleship remains my priority for ministry. However, I suspect many believers would also benefit from support in answering difficult questions, navigating difficult work environments and sharing their lives with non-Christians in a more holistic way. In particular I want to explore approaches to church family life through Monday to Saturday that are less oriented around formal programs. Specifically, I am interested to learn how the Crowded House movement encourage church members to share more of everyday life together, with more mature Christians using those opportunities to disciple younger ones and with both inviting their non-Christian acquaintances to join them, so that they can see the gospel lived out. At my tutor’s recommendation, I hope to get a short placement with one such church during second year.
College is also equipping me with a broader practical experience of ministry. I was placed at Woodford Evangelical Church for the year, which showed me life in a smaller church in a more working class context than my sending church. I had opportunities to preach three times, lead a service and do an all age talk, all with positive feedback. I also helped with a mission week at Kingham Hill School, which included giving an evangelistic talk and answering pupil’s questions about Christianity. Over the summer, I completed a week’s intensive placement in hospital chaplaincy, which significantly increased my confidence in entering the hospital environment and engaging with suffering people, Christian or otherwise.
I also spent two weeks on placement at a New Frontiers church, to get a better understanding of what charismatic churches believe and how they do ministry. I very much enjoyed the placement and warmed to the church, which among other things demonstrated how social action can be combined effectively with evangelism in order to bless the local community and draw people to Christ. I now feel much better placed to engage with charismatic churches in the future and work alongside them where possible, although I still have further thinking to do on what the of the ministry of the Holy Spirit looks like today.
Finally, I visited Uganda Martyrs Seminary near Kampala in June as part of a team from Oak Hill, running a conference on preaching. This was as much an opportunity to develop my own preaching skills and learn from brothers and sisters ministering in some very difficult circumstances, as for me to teach them. It was an incredibly encouraging and enriching time, not least in showing me where some of my own convictions were shaped more by my immediate Western cultural context than by scripture. It has also motivated me to further investigate whether I could be usefully involved with Pastor Training International or another similar organisation in the future, alongside UK based ministry.
I have now embarked on my second year of studies. After college I still hope to find an assistant pastor position, probably in an FIEC church. For the first few years, I am not so concerned about location, so long as the senior pastor is a good mentor. After this, I am still keen to head outside the South-East of England, to where there are fewer evangelical churches – possibly to Wolverhampton, Shropshire or Cornwall (the places I have closest ties with).
Phil is a husband, father and minister.